NSW Water Regulator concludes investigations into Maules Creek coal mine

Media release | 27 September 2019

The NSW water regulator has reached preliminary findings in its investigations into Maules Creek Coal Mine, concluding alleged unlawful water take is occurring at the site.

In June 2018, the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) received a report about Maules Creek Coal Mine alleging their water take was capturing surface water run-off without surface water access licences required by the Water Management Act 2000, and exceeding their harvestable rights.

NRAR commenced a complex and thorough investigation into the report, concluding there are reasonable grounds to allege the mine is taking surface water unlawfully.

NRAR finds the mine does not have sufficient entitlements on its water access licences for the take at the mine site and does not fall within a licence exemption under the Water Management Act 2000.

NRAR met with representatives of the mine and delivered the preliminary findings for comment. NRAR is reviewing its regulatory options including accepting a proposal for an enforceable undertaking or taking criminal or civil proceedings.

Maules Creek Coal Mine has been issued with a draft direction requiring installation of meters at key locations within the mine. Current and future surface water access licences are also being reviewed to ensure the monitoring program is able to accurately account for surface water taken on site.

Grant Barnes, the regulator’s Chief Regulatory Officer, said NRAR was established to ensure compliance with water laws and they will not hesitate to take appropriate regulatory action when required.

“NRAR is pursuing this matter of alleged unlawful water take as we would with any other.

“The onus is on all water users to comply with the law and their licence requirements. During times of extreme drought, the importance of protecting our precious water resources cannot be understated,” Mr Barnes said.

NRAR is unable to make further comments while the matter is being determined.